Graphic shows a cutaway of the satellite and how the various experiments work.
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SPACE

Satellite tests space junk retrieval methods

By Ninian Carter

September 21, 2018 - A luggage-sized satellite deployed from the International Space Station, called RemoveDEBRIS, is endeavouring to capture and make safe space junk using several different experimental techniques.

A satellite launched from the International Space Station has successfully deployed a net to capture space debris more than 300km above the Earth. In coming months, it will undertake two further experiments geared towards catching space junk, before deploying a dragsail to pull it into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up safely.

The RemoveDEBRIS mission is testing a range of technologies designed to declutter space from more than 500,000 items of debris put there during the last 60 years of human space exploration.

The ever-increasing amount of space junk is causing real issues for today’s launches as debris can travel up to 28,000 km/h – fast enough for a relatively small item to damage a satellite or spacecraft.

The mission comprises a main satellite that deploys two CubeSats (artificial debris targets) to demonstrate some of its onboard technologies:

• Net Experiment and CubeSat
• Vision-Based Navigation and CubeSat
• Harpoon and Deployable Target
• Dragsail

The mission will run until the end of 2019.

PUBLISHED: 21/09/2018; STORY: Graphic News
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